Maryland students get interactive dance lessons over Bell Atlantic's distance learning network

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- About 200 Maryland middle and high school students from across the state will take an interactive dance lesson today over Bell Atlantic's distance learning network.

ODC/San Francisco, a renowned modern dance company now performing "The Velveteen Rabbit" at the Kennedy Center, will conduct the interactive dance workshop by creating a virtual rehearsal studio that includes not only a direct exchange between the artists and students, but also among the students themselves. Students will see portions of a work in progress and be able to give feedback on the dance, the story and the music. This feedback will be used to shape a creative work that will premiere in Michigan next summer.

"Bell Atlantic's distance learning network offers the highest quality in audio and video technology and extends the reach of education beyond the traditional classroom," said Daniel J. Whelan, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Maryland. "With distance learning, people can discuss ideas and converse interactively, just as if they were meeting face to face. Guest speakers can inspire and instruct entire school districts instead of just individual classes, and students can visit places and people they might never have had the chance to see or meet."

The dance workshop will be held at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts in Owings Mills from 12:30 - 2 p.m. Using a fiber link, the workshop will be telecast to various schools, where students will be able to see, hear and speak with each other. Up to 120 students also will participate at the Gordon Center.

Dancers at the Gordon Center will be linked interactively over the distance learning network with: Frederick Douglass High in Baltimore City, Southeastern Technical High in Baltimore County and Calvert High in Calvert County.

At the event, the cast will stage portions of a work in progress and pause to explain the program to youngsters and ask for feedback. This energetic introduction to the company and the art form will convey the joy of movement and invention, and stimulate discussion on the work being developed. In the months ahead, ODC will use Internet chat lines allowing students to continue to be part of the process until the final work is showcased.

"Educational institutions of all sizes are using interactive distance learning to share information more effectively than ever," Whelan said. "Providing a fully interactive, real-time 'point to multi-point' audio/video link, distance learning promotes a natural exchange of information. Since this is real-time give and take, everyone involved feels like they're in the same room no matter where they are."

Bell Atlantic is a major sponsor of ODC's performance at the Kennedy Center, which runs through December 1. To generate interest in the performing arts, ODC has used interactive media wherever possible to reach school-aged children. Bell Atlantic's distance learning network has been a perfect vehicle for bringing this program to students who normally would not have an opportunity to view such a production.

Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new communications, entertainment and information industry. In the mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication marketplace. Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in Telecom Corporation of New Zealand and is actively developing high-growth national and international business opportunities in all phases of the industry.

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